"It's completely biocompatible and matches the patient". Scientists mixed the differentiated cells to form bioinks, which were layered onto scaffolding using a specialized 3D printer to form a small heart.
"This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers", lead researcher Tal Dvir of the TAU School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology said in a release.
University of Tel Aviv's Tal Dvir presents his team's 3D-printed heart.
He said that given a dire shortage of heart donors, the need to develop new approaches to regenerate a diseased heart was urgent.
The heart the Tel Aviv University team printed in about three hours is too small for humans - about 2.5 centimetres, or the size of a rabbit's heart.
The research team revealed in the findings, published in the journal Advanced Science, that they took a biopsy of fatty tissue from patients, reprogramming their cells and processing extracellular molecules into a personalised hydrogel. The cellular and a-cellular materials of the tissue were then separated. By alternating between the two different inks, the researchers were able to construct patches of heart tissue with blood vessels that are compatible with the patient's immune system.
"The biocompatibility of engineered materials [was] crucial to eliminate the risks of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments", said Dr. Dvir. Dvir says. "Ideally, the biomaterial should possess the same biochemical, mechanical and topographical properties of the patient's own tissues".
Although the 3D human heart represents a promising step towards transplant engineering, further research is needed.
Though it is still in the early stages of development, this invention represents a breakthrough for transplant medicine, as it may impact the lives of thousands of patients who await heart transplants for end-stage heart failure each year.
3D printed construction of a miniature heart model. "Our hope is that we will succeed and prove our method's efficacy and usefulness", said Prof.
"Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely", he said.